Queer Terms



Biological Sex: is made up of chromosomes, genitalia, hormones, and internal reproductive organs. It is important to note that biological sex characteristics do not define a person’s gender.

Gender: the way a person identifies themselves internally and psychologically. It is the sense of being non-binary, woman, man, or another gender entirely. Gender as a concept includes the following ideas:

Gender Assignment: the idea that gender is assigned at birth by a medical professional (often linked to a person’s external genitalia at birth)

Gender Roles: the stereotypical and often outdated norms and expectations (feminine or masculine) we impose on one another. 

Gender Attribution: the practice of assuming and attributing gender to one another.

Gender Expression: the way a person outwardly portrays themselves through clothing, makeup, hair, and body language. Many of these expressions are often seen as gendered, however, the way a person expresses themselves may not tell you what gender they are.

Sexual Orientation: While many people may know early on who they are attracted to, other people may not realize their attraction (especially same gender or multiple gender attraction) until much later in life. This is often due to many factors, such as family dynamics and belief systems, experiences within school and community, a lack of representation of queer people, internalized homophobia, and more. Some people may experience fluidity within their attraction, while other people may experience their attraction as concrete and consistent throughout their lifetime.


Gay: a person who is attracted to people of the same gender. Historically the term gay was used exclusively for men who were attracted to other men. It has also been used as an umbrella term to refer to the entire 2SLGBTQ community, however today we are shifting to using the term queer. 

Lesbian: a person (woman or non-binary) who is exclusively attracted to women. Historically this term was only used for women who were attracted to women, however today we include non-binary people who are exclusively attracted to women. 

Bisexual: a person who is attracted to two (or more) genders. Some bisexual people define their identity as being attracted to women and men, while others may define their identity as being attracted to their own and other genders. 

Polysexual: a person who is attracted to more than two genders. 

Pansexual: a person who is attracted to people regardless of their gender. 

Asexual: a person who experiences little to no sexual attraction or desire to others. Asexuality can be viewed on a spectrum and can range from someone who is in a fulfilling romantic relationship that involves sex, but may not require or desire it, to a person who does not have sex. Asexuality is different from celibacy and abstinence, as celibacy and abstinence are a choice.

Demisexual: a person who experiences sexual attraction to people once they have a strong emotional relationship

Gray-asexual: a person who experiences some sexual attraction from time to time. The frequency and intensity vary from person to person.

Heterosexual/Straight: a person who is attracted to people of the “opposite gender.”

Hypersexual: the intense and consistent desire for sexual interaction.


Transgender: A person whose gender is different from the gender they were assigned at birth

Cisgender: A person whose gender is the same as the gender they were assigned at birth

Two Spirit: An Indigenous person who holds unique gendered roles within the Indigenous worldview of gender, which is separate from the Eurocentric gender binary. In contemporary understandings of Two Spirit, this can also include sexual/ romantic orientations.

The term Two Spirit is a pan-Indigenous term that acknowledges the historical acceptance of gender and sexual diversity prior to colonization. This term speaks specifically to the experiences of Indigenous peoples and the disruption of historical acceptance towards diversity.

Non-Binary: A person whose gender exists outside of, or between, the gender binary. The term can be used solely to describe one's gender, and it can also be used as an umbrella term for all identities that exist outside of the binary of woman and man (ie. agender, genderqueer, bigender, non-binary, gender fluid, etc). 

Agender: a person who does not identify with any gender or does not experience gender at all. 

Bigender: a person who identities with two genders. Any combination of genders is possible. These genders may be present simultaneously and/or they may fluctuate. 

Genderqueer: an umbrella term for many gender non-conforming or non-binary identities often used by people who do not identify within the gender binary of woman and man. 

Gender fluid: a gender that changes with time, circumstances, and/or situations. Gender fluid is characterized by its shifting and flexible nature, which allows for a person's gender to change both gradually and quickly. 

Woman: a person, regardless of being transgender or cisgender, who is a woman. Typically, she/her pronouns are used for women. 

Man: a person, regardless of being transgender or cisgender, who is a man. Typically, he/him pronouns are used for men.

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